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Comelec’s Resolution 9615


By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper

Bombo Don Dolido, Aksyon John Paul Tia, Kapuso John Mandario (Super Radyo) and Kasamang Rod Tecson (RMN) must now notify the Comelec in writing before interviewing any candidate for the May elections.

Their days of unhampered live interviews with politicos are now over. Kaput.

And so must Bords Trevor Morales who must give written notice to the Comelec before plotting to interview any politician in his beats since the new rule de facto prohibits ambush interviews.

All media people, in fact, must do the same before covering press conferences convened by candidates like the weekly press briefings by Iloilo Gov. Arthur D. Defensor, Sr. They cannot shoot questions nor record their subjects’ answers because Comelec Resolution 9615 requires them to seek the commission’s prior approval.

Comelec stands for Commission on Elections, a body whose deficiency in counting is matched only by its notoriety for issuing idiotic rules like Resolution 9615 that the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on January 23 branded “absurd”.

Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes displayed his brilliance by backtracking from prior approval to mere notification. Reporters do not need to secure Comelec approval but only “notify” it before interviewing candidates, goes his cute explanation.

The Comelec is stacked by brilliant people and many of them are lawyers, as the name of its capo di tutti capi, Brillantes, suggests but they don’t realize the sheer impracticability of the rules they invent.

Does Comelec have nothing else to do than contriving this brilliant idea of breathing down the necks of press people? This is sheer bullying by Big Brother.

Whether mere notification or prior approval, Resolution 9615 is still prior restraint abhorred by the constitution which states that,  “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances (Section 4, Article III, Philippine Constitution)”.

Resolution 9615 makes the press’s avowed duty of informing the public and beating the deadline impossible to fulfill. The daily grind of gathering data like contacting candidates already consumes substantial amount of time. It, thus, undermines the people’s right to information on matters of public concern, that Section 7, Article III of the Constitution guarantees.

People have the right to know the politicians asking for their votes.

If listeners requested anchor John Paul Tia on the stand of certain politicians on issues cropping up along the way, his immediate move is to draw from his data bank but if he found no record, he would ask his listeners for patience because he must first notify Comelec in writing to interview the politicians concerned.

This is cute.

Morning broadcast anchor Nove Guazo may find himself in discomfort when interviewing a candidate who loves to call himself “Lovingly Yours, Tito Boboy” as well as naming a rival “Cadio Gor” which he suggests to also mean “gorilya” aside from the opponent’s surname.

If Cadio Gor called up to rebut, the anchor cannot entertain him immediately. “Sulatan ko anay Comelec antes ‘ta ka pasabton (I must first write Comelec before I allow you on air),” he would answer, which militates against one of the basic rules in journalism, quickness or timeliness.

Comelec is only courting public outrage.

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